Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) The 2020 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), which saw 580,000 visitors last year, has been postponed until May in the wake of escalating fears over the spread of a new coronavirus, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) said in a statement Thursday.
The MOC statement said that the 2020 TIBE, which was originally scheduled to be held Feb. 4-9 at Taipei World Trade Center will now be held May 7-12.
The exhibition comes at a time when publishers or visitors could also change their minds about attending the TIBE due to concerns over the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-cCoV) that originated in Wuhan in China's Hubei Province.
Taiwan has confirmed eight people infected while China has already recorded 7,711 infections and 170 deaths since the virus was first identified in December last year, according to official statistics as of Wednesday.
Taiwan's MOC, Taipei Book Fair Foundation, exhibitors' representatives, and publishers associations met for a risk assessment evaluation that day and concluded that the event should be postponed.
The decision was taken because of a likely drastic decline in visitors to the book fair, while some international exhibitors as well as authors had already canceled their scheduled attendance and talks, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation said in a separate statement.
The reason to postpone the TIBE is "in consideration of the effectiveness and quality of the exhibition, aiming to bring to exhibitors and readers alike a better book fair experience," the statement said.
The Taipei Book Fair Foundation told CNA that the original plan to grant foreign nationals and tourists in Taiwan free entry to the event on showing their passports will remain in place in May.
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said despite the postponement the MOC will continue to promote reading and book purchases in February.